I listen to a lot of NPR. Unless the correspondent is doing a "man in the street"-type interview, the subjects generally appear intelligent, educated and literate. At least they used to. I've heard several malapropisms
in recent weeks, some of which are so common that I figure it's time I spoke up.
The "call to action" is one of the sacrosanct elements of ads and direct mail: Lose weight! Save money! Act now!
How unorthodox, then, to discover calls to in
action — invitations to simply think
— in a spate of recent ad campaigns.
When my 12-year-old nephew, Caleb, asked what I was going to write about for the next installment of Red Pen Diaries, I said: "The em dash." He confessed that he didn't know what that was. "Neither do most adults," I explained.
"In difficult times fashion is always outrageous," the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli famously said. But come hard times or good times, you can always count on fashion writing
to be an excessive, outrageous genre unto itself. Where else but in fashion copy would destructed
be an acceptable — indeed, comprehensible — adjective? Who but a fashion editor would bully her readers with imperatives such as must-have
? And what on earth is one supposed to make of cryptic abbreviations like cardi
, and MOTG
And now from our friends at Editorial Emergency, a brief rant against abbreviated jargon, from "fail" to "convo": "If you feel like an idiot saying something out loud, don't say it in writing either."
I've been seeing a lot of You
lately. Not specifically you
, dear reader, but You
, the second-person advertorial. Yes, after years of talking about us,
marketers have taken a shine to You
. And they're eager to tell You
just how important you are to their business.
Neal Whitman's recent column
on the language of "choice" in education ("Make good choices!") got me thinking about how choice
are used in marketing. From the flight attendant's cheery "We know you have a choice when you fly — thanks for choosing us!" to IKEA's "Choose your own entertainment adventure," we're constantly encouraged to select from an array of options. But what does all that choice